Technician Garth Crowther and Trooper Brent Gilleland
On February 9, 2013 Mr. Jeff Mondragon, an employee of the Colorado Department of Transportation was driving his snow plow on La Manga Pass during a vicious winter storm when he noticed what appeared to be a vehicle off the road down a 150 feet embankment. While Mr. Mondragon stopped to check on the vehicle, driving directly behind him was off-duty Trooper Brent Gilleland, who also stopped to assist Mr. Mondragon.
The snow was over waist deep as Trooper Gilleland and Mr. Mondragon traversed the treacherous terrain to discover the driver still inside the vehicle, suffering from hypothermia and in critical condition. Technician Garth Crowther was patrolling nearby when he was notified of the situation and responded to the crash to assist. Technician Crowther, who used to teach cold weather survival and specifically how to treat hypothermia, immediately went into action to save the driver.
Over the course of the next hour while waiting for emergency services personnel to arrive, Technician Crowther, Trooper Gilleland and Mr. Mondragon gathered blankets from passing motorists and were able to start the victim’s vehicle. The estimated grade was 40%-50%, and each navigated large boulders, rocks, snow drifts, and loose gravel while making numerous trips up and down the steep embankment in 18 degree temperatures and 20 mph sustained winds with 30 mph gusts. Technician Crowther and Trooper Gilleland without hesitation risked the elements and their own safety in the interest of saving the driver.
Eventually the driver was transported to a local hospital and later airlifted to a Denver area hospital due to her injuries. Had it not been for Technician Crowther, Trooper Gilleland, and Mr. Mondragon, the driver would have undoubtedly died from hypothermia. As a result of their actions, Technician Crowther and Trooper Gilleland are recognized with this year’s Citizens Appreciate State Troopers Award.